Building the Not-so-traditional Traditional Canoe

Fulaga, Lau Group, Fiji

By: Kerry

Fiji 2015-00903

Traditional canoes on Suva Harbour, on the wall of the King’s suite, Grand Colonial hotel, Suva

Alifereti’s earliest memory is of riding in a hollowed-out log that would become the hull of a new canoe, as it was hauled through the forest from where the tree was felled to the water’s edge.

Growing up on Fulaga, the sturdy outrigger canoes were essential to island life.

“My mother was a nurse,” he said. “When a woman on Ogea was having a baby, they’d send a canoe to bring my mother to the island. I’d go along, clinging to the mast.”

Ogea is 10 nautical miles away across open water, which is testament to the sturdiness of the little outriggers: apparently they’ve been sailed as far as Suva. But one hasn’t been built on the island for seven years, and the art is dying.

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